God of Tremors
Written by: Peter Milligan
Illustrated by: Piotr Kowalski
Colored by: Brad Simpson
Lettered by: Simon Bowland
Published by: Aftershock Comics
In the oversized God of Tremors one-shot, Aubrey Clarke is a young boy in 19th Century England who begins experiencing seizures… much to the chagrin of his father, Sir Ingham Clarke, an Anglican Reverend and 7th Baronet who views the symptoms as proof of demonic possession.
In a tale that takes full advantage of the oversized format, God of Tremors explores the situation from Aubrey’s perspective, culminating in a final image that is sure to linger in the reader’s mind once the comic has been closed.
This review includes spoilers for God of Tremors, so proceed with caution if you haven’t yet had the chance to pick up this one-shot from Aftershock, available at your local comic shop today.
First and foremost, the benefit of the magazine-sized pages is obvious from the first page, which delivers both an excellent sense of place and a solid summation of the unsettled situation at the reader’s very first glance.
Divided in half, the left side of the page shows Clarke Hall, with a full moon hanging in the sky and both statuary and tree branches alike encroaching in the foreground. Then, on the opposite half of the page, a pair of stacked panels shows a Bible and Crucifix-wielding Ingham berating his seizure-afflicted son as the boy sobs, prostrate before him.
Throughout the story, the magazine-sized format is used to great effect: while there may be only two or three panels on a page, the size of the paper they’re printed on means that extensive detail can be worked into every image, an advantage Kowalski’s art uses to great effect, and Simpson’s color only serves to further emphasize.
Furthermore, the large page layout means there is always ample room for Bowland’s lettering, without compromising the art.
At the center of God of Tremors are the epileptic seizures experienced by Aubrey.
Because of what his father perceives to be the potential “embarrassment” of Aubrey’s seizures becoming well known at his boarding school, Aubrey is forced to return to Clarke Hall, where his father sets about attempting to brutally beat the seizures out of him.
God of Tremors complicates these circumstances by making it clear that Aubrey’s father had plenty of other options available, with Maud, his mother, even turning to the latest medical research – a course of action that leads Ingram to have her incarcerated in Bedlam, an upsetting (but sadly, wholly believable) course of action.
When God of Tremors really beings to heat up is when it begins dipping into sacrilegious imagery. In particular, a panel that shows a vision of the pagan God of Tremors effigy overtaking an Anglican altar is especially arresting – and the narrative ultimately emphasizes that this is not just blasphemy for its own sake: there is significant thematic meaning in the combination of the pagan idol with the symbols Aubrey would most closely associate with personal salvation.
This is paired with a closer examination of Reverend Clarke that reveals that his beatings of Aubrey might be considered in part a projection of his own pornography-laden self-flagellation sessions. This is underscored by the fact that he uses one of the pornographic images in order to secure the incarceration of his wife, as well: like so many men of the cloth before him, the good Reverend is not dealing with his own internal struggles, and as a result, they have become rotten, and the stink is overwhelming those closest to him.
But with your resident holy authority hopelessly corrupted, where do you turn for your savior?
God of Tremors
Are the seizures Aubrey experiences his symptoms, or are they his deliverance? God of Tremors makes an extremely convincing argument for the latter. Don’t miss this haunting, singular one-shot.
God of Tremors is currently available at your local comic shop.
You can read The Beat’s interview with Milligan on Out of Body and God of Tremors here.